Koala Bakery & Cafe has two locations — one on Michigan State University’s campus and another across from Fresh International Market, an Asian grocery store close to the border of East Lansing and Okemos. I found myself at the market on a Saturday morning, helping a friend shop for Oscars party hors d’oeuvres. Nothing primes me for a tasty treat quite like food shopping, and after a recent, dessert-only trip to Koala, I had my sights set on a more in-depth return visit.
If you like having options, Koala Bakery is the place for you. The menu includes a rainbow of drinks, from milk and fruit teas to slushes and more. I got the Honeydew Milk Tea and, because I’m boring, declined to add boba, coconut jelly or red beans — but you should know those are available. The drink tasted of perfectly ripe honeydew, a flavor I love but is very hard to get just right. It wasn’t too sweet, was lovely to look at and paired beautifully with my other selections.
For mains, the café offers purple rice burritos, rice bowls, sandwiches with house-made bread and an assortment of fried dishes. I’m a sucker for East Asian-style fried chicken, so I went with the Fried Cumin Chicken Wings, which were new to me. They were crispy, crunchy and ever-so-slightly spicy, and the cumin flavor was absolutely intoxicating. I’m excited to try the three other styles of wings.
The variety continues in the dessert section, with at least three different styles of ccheesecake — Japanese, New York and Basque, with different permutations therein — in addition to taro and matcha crepe cakes, tiramisu, fresh fruit cups with whipped cream and more. I chose the Japanese Coffee Cheesecake, and I can confidently say it was my best pick of the day. A thick layer of fluffy yet firm, subtly sweet, coffee-infused cheesecake filling sat upon a sublime coffee-soaked graham cracker crust. Again, I can’t wait to try the other options, but this would be hard to beat.
After drooling over the dessert case, weighing our options and placing our order at the counter, a robot waiter playing a cute little song served us a short while later in Koala’s clean, comfortable and casual dining area. It was a lovely experience all around. Even if decision-making is as difficult for you as it is for me, I have a feeling you can order with confidence knowing it would be hard to choose wrong.
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